Helping Children Learn Through Creative Play and Experience
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Children look to their parents for encouragement and guidance, so it’s also important to remember to keep the positivity going once a project is done. Esposito suggests these tips to help affirm your child:
- Resist the temptation to “fix up” your child’s creation. Take a loving hands-off approach instead. Remember that children’s art is about discovery and process, not polished results. In years to come, that lopsided little clay pot will be even more meaningful because of its slopes and lumps. Whenever possible, ask your child if/where he would like you to write his name. Or, if she is learning to form letters, encourage her to sign her own name.
- Practice giving genuine feedback. Simply saying “that’s pretty” does not let the child know that you have really seen their work. Instead, take a moment to soak it in, then say what you see! Use descriptive words to comment on colors (bright, pale, strong), shapes (round, pointy), lines (curvy, wiggly, jagged), texture (smooth, rough, fuzzy), or other elements that are in their creation. It will expand your child’s art vocabulary and let him know you have taken time to really observe his efforts.
- Foster pride. Find a special place to display your child’s creations (a clothesline or magnetic strip in the playroom or family room makes an easy “rotating gallery”). When the volume of artwork becomes overwhelming (and it will!) encourage her to select her favorites to save in an art portfolio or box. Or, sort and digitize them to make a keepsake “art yearbook” or family calendar . Be sure to also select your favorites and share why they are special to you.
Creative play is an essential part of kids’ development, and as most parents know first-hand, there’s no better feeling than watching your kid experience the joy and pride of learning something new on their own.